Dr Tony Grant is Making Australia Happy
24 November 2010
Dr Tony Grant, Director of the Coaching Psychology Unit in the School of Psychology, is starring in an ABC documentary series on the science of happiness - Making Australia Happy.
Screening over three weeks in November 2010 on ABC1, Making Australia Happy takes the latest and most fascinating research from the science of happiness and test drives it on the suburban streets of Sydney.
The series follows eight volunteers with happiness levels significantly below the national average, who live in the Marrickville area - recently identified by Deakin University's annual wellbeing index as one of the unhappiest in Australia.
Dr Grant leads a team of three experts who aim to change the volunteers' happiness scores and their lives in just eight weeks. The other two experts are Dr Russ Harris, a mindfulness coach, and Anna-Louise Bouvier, a physiotherapist and mind-body specialist.
"Happiness is about living a full, rich and meaningful life - the kind of life we'd all like our children to live. But happiness levels fluctuate considerably," said Dr Grant.
"Happiness is made up of psychological wellbeing, such as how much meaning and engagement you have in your life, and subjective wellbeing, which is about how you think about the world and how you feel about yourself."
"We have a significant amount of influence on how happy we are - the choices we make on a daily basis determine our happiness," explained Dr Grant.
The eight volunteers in Making Australia Happy represent a range of ages, backgrounds and life circumstances. What they share in common is the desire to get happy.
"I was with the eight participants over the whole eight week period of the show and saw their ups and downs and challenges they faced - it's all real. It was wonderful to see the participants throw themselves into the exercises we set them. I was amazed at how quickly some of them changed through completing the activities," said Dr Grant.
"Psychology has come up with really useful, evidence-based strategies for improving our wellbeing and helping us reach the goals we set. Does that mean we are always happy? No. Does that mean we turn into Superman? Absolutely not. But it does mean that we can be a bit more resilient."
It's not just the eight volunteers who benefit from the program though. All Australians can learn more about the science of happiness and their own sense of happiness, and complete activities to improve their happiness level via ABC TV's Making Australia Happy website: http://makingaustraliahappy.abc.net.au
"The program is about putting positive messages about wellbeing out there and counteracting some of the negative stuff that we get in the media. It's my mission to bring the benefits of psychology to the masses and Making Australia Happy is one way of doing this," said Dr Grant.
"The show does a good job of having an evidence-based approach and explaining the science of happiness, balanced with the engaging stories of the participants. It would be easy for the show to be trivial, but I'm really pleased at how the production team have approached the topic and how the show has turned out."
His book Eight Steps to Happiness is another way Dr Grant is sharing his research and international findings in the discipline of positive psychology with a wider audience. Positive Psychology has marked a shift away from the disease model of traditional psychology, which focussed on treating dysfunction, to the science of optimal human functioning. Since then, a vast amount of international research has emerged exploring the value of positive emotions, positive traits and positive social institutions such as families, schools, workplaces and communities.
Watch ABC TV's Making Australia Happy at: http://makingaustraliahappy.abc.net.au/episodes.php
Contact: Katynna Gill
Phone: 02 9351 6997